Hispanic 23andme results

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Summary of survey findings
  3. Screenshots of 23andme results
    • Mexico & Central America
    • Colombia & South America
    • Cuba

Intro

This page features screenshots of 23andme results for people from various parts of Latin America. Restricted to Spanish speaking countries covering the so-called Hispanic Americas. Mostly from Mexico, Colombia and Cuba. Results for Dominicans and Puerto Ricans can be found on these separate pages:

When reviewing these results it is essential to be aware that 23andme has implemented several updates in the last two years. Often beneficial for Tracing African Roots! Starting with the introduction of a new African regional framework in 2018. In 2019 new reference samples were added for especially North Africa. While also the potentially very useful Recent Ancestor Locations feature has been greatly expanded. In 2020 an upgraded algorithm was introduced. I will indicate for each screenshot which version it represents. In fact the differences between the 2018 & 2019 versions tend to be slight for most people. When looking only at the African scores. But the 2020 update did cause a greater impact. For greater understanding of how 23andme is able to come up with these results and how to correctly interpret the African breakdown read these links:

Hispanic group averages

In order to attain greater insight for these Hispanic results I have performed a survey (based almost solely on the 2018 version).1 Despite sometimes minimal sample size looking into their group averages and comparing with other parts of the Afro-Diaspora can be very useful! Also in your personal quest as it might serve as a helpful benchmark so to speak. Which makes it easier to see how your own results fit in the greater picture. Any meaningful deviations from the group averages hopefully serving as helpful clues. Naturally individual variation is a given and is not to be denied! See links below for my online spreadsheets which feature all of the individual results:

Aside from a strictly personalized perspective of course also on a more broader population level the historical context  will remain essential to really get the most out of your own admixture results. As most of the time your results will actually conform more or less with the results of other people with similar backgrounds. And therefore in the greater scheme of things your own personal African roots will be pretty much the same as for other people with your particular background. Afterall most of our more distant African lineage will be shared with fellow countrymen with whom we share more recent ancestral ties. Reinforced at times by relative endogamy and localized genepools. Obviously Latin America covers a huge and diverse area across the Americas. And even within countries there might be a great deal of wideranging variation and regional differentation. Not only in total amounts of African ancestry but also for within-Africa origins.2 For more discussion see:  

Table 1 (click to enlarge) 

This overview shows my Hispanic 23andme survey findings (2018-2019).  The data has been sorted on highest to lowest score for Central & Southeast African. The sample size is quite robust for the entire area combined (n=305) but at times of course minimal.  Either way already quite insightful for revealing the various tendencies in African regional admixture across the Hispanic Americas. Just to pick out one prevailing trend notice how “Senegambian & Guinean” is primary for almost all my Hispanic survey groups. The exceptions (Cuba & Pacific Colombia) being quite telling! Most likely to be explained by African ancestry to be mainly traced to either the 1500’s/1600’s or the 1700’s/1800’s. Group averages for “Hunter-Gatherer” and the various Northeast African categories have been left out because they were always near 0%, and therefore within the noise margin. As indicated by the considerable “Broadly African” scores Central African DNA was most likely underestimated by 23andme’s 2018/2019 version.

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In the above chart I am using a macro-regional framework. However due to fewer West African regions available on 23andme it is not completely the same as what I have used for my previous Ancestry surveys (Upper Guinea, Lower Guinea, Central/Southeast Africa, see this chart). Similar regions to “Mali” and “Benin/Togo” are lacking on 23andme at this moment. This inevitably results in some shifts within 23andme’s African breakdown. Nonetheless still useful to see where each region is showing its highest or lowest level across my survey groups. As this may very well be correlated with historical plausibility.

Generally speaking it seems very likely that “Senegambian & Guinean” is reflecting early Upper Guinean founding effects for many Hispanic Americans, dating from mostly the 1500’s. For most of my survey groups it is clearly their main primary region within the African breakdown. Most elevated among Mexicans and neighbouring countries such as El Salvador. And quite consistent also. Also among Mexicans with higher than average African admixture! This Upper Guinean founding effect is of course not the sole determinant of African lineage for Hispanic Americans. Their overall African roots being much more diverse and complex due to geographically variable and perhaps also socially variable absorption of other types of African regional ancestry to be traced back to later time periods (1600’s-1800’s). But this Upper Guinean founding effect certainly does seem to have been very impactful and enduring!3

Despite minimal sample size it is most likely no coincidence that the lowest “Senegambian & Guinean” scores were obtained for my Cuban and Pacific Colombian survey groups. In both cases around 10%, see table 1 above. Going by known slave trade patterns their African ancestry is probably more so reflective of the 1700’s or even 1800’s in Cuba’s case. Rather than the earlier time period of the 1500’s/1600’s which will be relevant especially for Hispanics with relatively minor African lineage (Dominicans being a notable exception). Either way it is also quite telling how “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is peaking among Pacific Colombians (28.6%). While it is most subdued (<5%) for Mexicans as well as my survey participants from El Salvador. Probably for Pacific Colombians especially suggestive of shared Gold Coast lineage with the Anglo-Caribbean by way of slave trade via Portobelo/Panama during the 1700’s.

My Cuban survey group might have a rather minimal sample size but still I find it very meaningful that their primary region, on average, should be “Nigerian” (24%). Even more pronounced in fact (37%) for my Cuban survey participants with higher amounts of total African admixture. This finding appears to already corroborate a greater genetic impact of African ancestors hailing from the Bight of Benin and Bight of Biafra. These areas (both covering Nigeria) are known to represent a combined share of around 40% for Cuba’s slave trade (leaving out Intra-American slave trade, see table 2 below). Also for Pacific Colombia these Lower Guinean provenance zones are known to be very significant. As also reflected in their elevated “Nigerian” score of 23.3%.

Also very intriguing to see how the Central African component is a distinctive feature for especially my Mexican survey group. Both for Mexicans with average African admixture (1-5%) and above average African admixture (>10%)  the scaled group average for “Angolan & Congolese” is practically 20%. While the subtotal of Central/Southeastern African DNA would be around 30%. Most likely an underestimation even because of suboptimal prediction accuracy in the 2018/2019 version. Still already greatly in line with historical plausibility. As it is known that Mexicans and Meso Americans should have one of the highest shares of Central African lineage among Trans-Atlantic Afro-descendants, based on slave trade patterns. See also my previous Ancestry survey findings which have Mexicans trailing only Brazilians and Haitians when it comes to their scaled Central African component.

Finally also fascinating to see the minor but still relatively elevated share of 5.8% “Southern East African” for Cubans. Although really for many of my Hispanic survey groups this area is distinctive when compared with other parts of the Afro-Diaspora. Only Brazil has an even more noticeable Southeast African component (7.6% see this page). Most likely to be correlated with slave trade with Mozambique. As can be seen in the overview below actually within the context of strictly Hispanic Americas (covered in my survey) documented slave trade with Southeast Africa was relatively the highest for Cuba (10.9%). And therefore in accordance with the data I have collected sofar. It will be very interesting to also include future DNA test results from either Argentina and/or Uruguay (=Rio de la Plata) to see how much their even higher documented Southeast African ancestry (20.4%) is being manifested in actual corresponding regional scores.

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Table 2 (click to enlarge) 

Many insightful patterns on display in this overview. Just to highlight a single one: notice the remarkably high level of Senegambian slave trade for the Hispanic Americas. That is both the so-called Circum-Caribbean (=mainly Mexico & Colombia) as well as most of the Hispanic Caribbean. Cuba being a notable exeception! A clear indicator of the Upper Guinean founding effect I have blogged about since 2014 already. And which now also seems confirmed once again by my 23andme survey.  Source: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (2020) (www.slavevoyages.org)

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“Especially Mexican results from the Veracruz area or around the Costa Chica should be very enlightening. […] But still I suspect they will mostly share a great deal of the seemingly Angolan and Upper Guinean origins reported for other Mexicans as well sofar.” (Fonte Felipe, 2015)

” For socalled “Afro Colombians”, especially from the Pacific coastline, there might be a greater contrast and substructure showing up in regional origins. Based on historical evidence and local ethnogenesis more noticeable ancestry from the Ghana-Benin-Nigeria area is perhaps to be expected.” (Fonte Felipe, 2015)

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The above quotations are taken from a previous blog post discussing my AncestryDNA survey findings for especially Mexicans and Colombians from 2015. With these new 23andme survey findings I am very pleased to finally have included such highly insighful samples from Pacific Colombia as well as Costa Chica/Guerrero and Veracruz. Something I speculated about five years ago already! Obviously several shortcomings and limitations in sample size will apply. Still I find it very intriguing to see that table 1 indeed seems to be indicative of regional substructure across and within Hispanic American populations. The relevant historical context of Trans Atlantic slave trade patterns as shown in table 2 should be helpful for understanding most of my survey findings. Not only the arising discrepancies for some selected survey (sub)groups but also in fact the wider similarities.

Genetic substructure is basically referring to subgroups within greater populations. To be defined along geographical, social, cultural, or even “racial” lines. Despite commonalities various localized factors may still have caused differentiation between various subgroups within a given population. In particular pointing towards a distinctive mix of African regional origins. Showing overlap to be sure but still recognizable due to deviating proportions. With proper interpretation this can be very helpful in your quest to Trace African Roots. This is a theme I have been researching for other parts of the Afro-Diapora, incl. Puerto Ricans for many years already. In upcoming blog posts I will discuss these preliminary outcomes in more detail.

In particular for Colombia there seems to be a really insightful difference in main African regional origins according to geography (esp. Andes/Caribbean vs. Pacific). However for Mexicans it seems sofar that regardless of level of African admixture (>10% vs. 1-5%) or even geography (Veracruz vs. Guerrero) it will still be Upper Guinean and Central African lineage which is clearly predominant. As indicated resp. by “Senegambian & Guinean” and “Angolan & Congolese”. Often (but not always) to the near exclusion of any Lower Guinean lineage. As indicated by both “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” and “Nigerian”. All of which is greatly conforming with historical plausibility as I have already described in previous blogposts.

Quite tellingly Cuban results sofar seem to be somewhat of an outlier. Although regrettably I have not yet been able to really investigate the most likely substructure existing between Cubans of only minor African descent (<10%) versus Cubans with predominant African ancestry (>50%). Possibly self-identified “white” Cubans with longstanding colonial roots extending into the 1500’s will also often show a more elevated “Senegambian & Guinean” share within their otherwise minimal African breakdown. Either way it seems plausible that Lower Guinean ancestry wil be more prevalent for many Cubans because their African ancestry will often be dating back mostly to the 1700’s/1800’s. Instead of the 1500’s/1600’s which seems to be the case for most Mexicans & Meso-Americans. As well as for a substantial subsegment throughout the Hispanic Americas. Usually people with only a minor degree of African ancestry and a very long history of mestizaje.

Colombians and other Hispanic Americans being somewhat intermediate. Due to substructure as well as because of localized historical reasons (e.g. the Dominican Republic). But Cuba is clearly standing out because it had massive slave imports especially in the 1800’s. In fact more than 90% of all enslaved Africans arrived in Cuba during the 1800’s! Puerto Rico also experienced a remarkable increase in slave trade in the 1800’s. Although less pronounced overall (share of documented slave trade in the 1800’s is 33% vs 25% for the 1500’s). While for Mexico the peak of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was rather during the 1500’s and 1600’s. Intra-American Slave trade and all sorts of migrations (both before and after Slavery) also to be taken into account to be sure. Either way for greater understanding it will be essential to study the relevant time framing or “waves” of Africans arriving from different regions for whichever specific Hispanic background you are researching. See also:

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Mexican & Central American Results

Table 3 (click to enlarge) 

For most Mexicans in my survey (36/49 “Senegambian & Guinean” represents the biggest part of their African breakdown. However for many people also other categories turned up as primary regions. Especially “Angolan & Congolese” (14/49, see Ranked #1). The “Broadly…” categories cover a substantial part for most people. Which is indicative of how especially Central African DNA may have been underestimated for many people. Even when already it is showing up in a very distinguishing fashion when compared with other parts of the Afro-Diaspora. In accordance with historical plausibility. Mexico’s known slave trade patterns being focused on both Upper Guinea as well as Central Africa to a greater extent than most other places in the Americas.

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As far as I know and was able to verify all of these screenshots below are from persons with 4 grandparents from the same indicated background. Unless mentioned otherwise. Meant to illustrate the individual variation among Mexicans and Central Americans in the first place. Despite the limited sample size these results might still also be quite representative while some of them could even show distinct patterns for their nationality. The results have been arranged from highest degree of African admixture to lowest. I mention regional origins within Mexico and Central America, whenever such details were available to me. Naturally I did not have perfect information about everyone’s complete family tree. So the headings on top of the screenshots are only meant as an approximation of recent family origins!

This also goes for the recent ancestral locations btw which I highlighted myself. Potentially a very useful feature (based on DNA matching strength) but only to be taken as indicative. Due to a skewed reference database its predictions will sometimes not be perfectly in line with known family origins. Also implied ancestry might actually be due to unexpected ancestral migrations, dating back to colonial times even. Still often it will be quite informational and accurate. Not only for recent ancestry within the Americas but actually also often specifying Iberian/Spanish ancestry!

Regrettably I have not yet seen such recent ancestral locations also appearing in the African breakdown for either Mexicans or Central Americans! Although I have seen it a few times in my Haitian and Jamaican surveys. Each time confirming and even in one case specifying Nigerian lineage on a state level! Very valuable results therefore. I believe this feature (based on DNA matching strength) holds great potential for further specification of African lineage in future updates. Although the implied timeframe has to be expanded from the current 200 years to atleast the 1700’s and preferably even beyond. As afterall the 1500’s-1600’s might be the most relevant time period when wanting to Trace African Roots for many Hispanic Americans (see this page).

I like to thank again all the persons who kindly agreed to share their results with me!

See links below for my online spreadsheet which features all of the individual results:

MEXICO (Veracruz)

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2019 version. Very special results. Veracruz  being the main entry point of Africans into Mexico/New Spain. And also still home to a vibrating partially African influenced Jarocho culture. Easily the highest African amount within my Mexican survey. Still the predominance of both Upper Guinean and Central African  origins is consistent with what is being reported for Mexicans with lower amounts of African admixture.

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MEXICO (Guerrero: Acapulco)

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2018 version. Again above average African admixture being reported for this person. Guerrero, located on the Pacific side of Mexico, being known as one of the main areas (Costa Chica) where African ancestry for Mexicans might be most elevated. Along with Veracruz on the Caribbean side. Such persons sometimes also being termed as “Afro-Mexicans“. Although actual African admixture might still be overall minor compared to their other ancestral components. Either way yet again a primary score of “Senegambian & Guinean” and to a lesser degree also Central African DNA on display. As is also the case for Mexicans with more diluted African admixture (1-5%). The distinguishing aspect for people from Guerrero could very well be their minor but still very distinctive Philipino ancestry.

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MEXICO (Tamaulipas)

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2018 version. Quite evenly balanced triracial breakdown for this person from Tamaulipas, which is located on the Caribbean side of Mexico. Obviously the degree of African admixture at over 20% is quite elevated for the Mexian context. However the scaled African breakdown is actually very much in line with Mexicans who show a more subdued degree of African admixture (1-5%).

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MEXICO (Guerrero)

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2018 version. Again convincing share of Upper Guinean DNA for this Mexican with above average African admixture. “Senegambian & Guinean” scores for Mexicans might often also suggest much celebrated Mandinga lineage.

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MEXICO 

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2020 version. Recently updated results. Easily spotted by looking into the European breakdown which appears much more homogenized now. “Unassigned” and “Broadly..” scores have been diminished for the most part. The prediction accuracy of “Angolan & Congolese” could very well have been improved. However in this case “Senegambian & Guinean” continues to have the upperhand.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO 

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2019 version.

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MEXICO 

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2020 version. “Angolan & Congolese” is the biggest region in the African breakdown. But notice how “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is quite noticeable as well. Highlighting how the expected predominance of either Upper Guinean and/or Central African lineage of Mexicans is not always going to fully materialize. As in fact also in later time periods (late 1600’s, early 1700’s African captives were still entering Mexico, often by way of Jamaica.

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MEXICO (Veracruz)

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2020 version. Despite the recent ancestral location feature ( at times skewed due to 23anem’s customer database) this person is a certified Jarocho, with family origins from Veracruz, at least from the last two generations.

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MEXICO (Puebla)

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2018 version.

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MEXICO (Puebla)

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2018 version.  The recent ancestral location for Puebla is in fact correct. A bit peculiar though to see Peru /Lima mentioned as one of the recent ancestral locations as well. Could be just a fluke, or otherwise to be explained by colonial migrations between Mexico & Lima. Possibly also to be related to this person’s above average Native American ancestry. As I have seen such surprising Peru locations also for Mexicans of practically 100% Native American descent, see this screenshot for example.

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MEXICO 

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2020 version.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO (Puebla)

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2018 version.

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MEXICO 

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2019 version. Exceptionally “Southern East African” is the biggest African region within the African breakdown. Actually for one other Mexican in my survey this region came in shared first place as well.  But otherwise for other Afro-descendants in the Americas I have only seldomly observed this. Only for 1 Cuban and 5 Brazilians! Admittedly the amount itself is quite minimal. But still this could provide a very valuable clue for follow-up research. Especially when combined with finding associated Southeast African DNA matches.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO (Puebla)

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2018 version.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO

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2020 version. Again notice how at times “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is quite noticeable as well. Actually this category could also still be pinpointing Upper Guinean DNA by way of Mali. But either way the appearance of elevated scores for this region might often be suggestive of something distictive within the Mexican context.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO (Puebla)

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2018 version.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO (Jalisco)

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2020 version.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version.

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MEXICO 

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2018 version. Lowest African amount within my survey. Actually many Mexicans might have minimal African admixture of around 1-3% only. Still amazing that the African breakdown remains consistent and in line with historical plausibility. Only showing Central African and Upper Guinean scores. A testament of how 23andme is often quite impressive even when describing trace amounts (<1%) of distinctive admixture.

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EL SALVADOR 

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2018 version. On average El Salvadoreans might have a somewhat higher degree of African admixture than Mexicans. However their African breakdown is very similar! Practically only consisting of Upper Guinean & Central African DNA, as suggested by primary scores for either “Senegambian & Guinean” or “Angolan & Congolese”.

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EL SALVADOR 

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2018 version.

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EL SALVADOR 

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2018 version.

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EL SALVADOR 

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2018 version.

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GUATEMALA 

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2018 version. Nearly 100% Native American score for this person. Easily the highest amount of such lineage in my Hispanic survey. Although actually I have seen other persons with 99%+ Native American scores as well. But this person in fact shows an intriguing trace amount of 0.9% “Senegambian & Guinean” in addition. Several ancestral scenarios might apply but perhaps this score is representing the genetic inheritance of one single Upper Guinean ancestor?

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HONDURAS (Pacific: Valle & Choluteca)

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2020 version. Very interesting to see this breakdown for a Honduran who is strictly from the most western part of the country. In fact even from the Pacific side! Both Valle and Choluteca located on the narrow Pacific strip of Honduras. Because actually this could matter a great deal when it comes to African lineage. Differences in regional African origins between western & eastern Honduras being very likely. Possibly even when not including the Garifuna. This particular breakdown being greatly similar to those for people from El Salvador and basically a continuation of the same Upper Guinean & Central African patterns as in Mexico. However for eastern Honduras and especially the Caribbean coastal area things will usually be very different due to greater exposure of British Intra-American slave trade with its greater genetic imprint from Lower Guinea. This goes even more so obviously for Belize. See also this page for Belizean and Garifuna results, many of them in fact from Honduras!

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NICARAGUA 

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2020 version. Just one single result, obviously Nicaraguans will show greater diversity. But perhaps still telling that in this case “Nigerian” is  (slightly) bigger than “Angolan & Congolese” as well as  “Senegambian & Guinean”. Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica possibly being affected in greater degree by British Intra-American slave trade than Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala. Carried out out either indirectly by way of Panama or directly by way of Jamaica. This goes even more so obviously for Belize. See also this page for Belizean and Garifuna results.

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PANAMA

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2019 version. Quite evenly balanced breakdown but still interesting to see “Senegambian & Guinean” managing to hold on to first place. A great deal of regional diversity also within the African breakdown is to be expected given Panama’s continued involvement in Intra-American Slave Trade from early on in the 1500’s to the late 1700’s. An essential transit point for African captives being brought in from the Caribbean with destinations in Pacific South America., esp. Peru but also Ecuador and Colombia. Also fascinating to see the considerable amount of Chinese admixture. I have otherwise only seen this for my Cuban survey participants.

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Colombian & South American Results

Table 4 (click to enlarge) 

Compared with Mexicans the African breakdown for Colombians is more diverse but still features “Senegambian & Guinean” with greatest frequency as biggest region (10/22). However for many people also other categories turned up as primary regions. Especially “Angolan & Congolese” (6/22,) and “Nigerian ” (4/22), see Ranked #1). Lower Guinean regions such as “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” as well as “Nigerian” are showing up with higher group averages than among Mexicans. Also to be kept in mind that actually among Pacific Colombians these regions could very well be primary with greater frequency, due to regional substructure (see table 1) .

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As far as I know and was able to verify all of these screenshots below are from persons with 4 grandparents from the same indicated background. Unless mentioned otherwise. Meant to illustrate the individual variation among Colombians and South Americans in the first place. Despite the limited sample size these results might still also be quite representative while some of them could even show distinct patterns for their nationality and/or particular background. The results have been arranged from highest degree of African admixture to lowest. I also mention regional origins whenever such details were available to me. Naturally I did not have perfect information about everyone’s complete family tree. So the headings on top of the screenshots are only meant as an approximation of recent family origins!

This also goes for the recent ancestral locations btw which I highlighted myself. Potentially a very useful feature (based on DNA matching strength) but only to be taken as indicative. Due to a skewed reference database its predictions will sometimes not be perfectly in line with known family origins. Also implied ancestry might actually be due to migrations in several ways. Hispanic people often being greatly interrelated, even across borders generally speaking. Still usually already quite accurate! Not only for recent ancestry within the Americas but actually also often specifying Iberian/Spanish ancestry!

Regrettably I have not yet seen such recent ancestral locations also appearing in the African breakdown for either Colombians or other South Americans! Although I have seen it a few times in my Haitian and Jamaican surveys. Each time confirming and in some cases specifying Nigerian lineage on a state level! Very valuable results therefore. I believe this feature (based on DNA matching strength) holds great potential for further specification of African lineage in future updates. Although the implied timeframe has to be expanded from the current 200 years to atleast the 1700’s and preferably even beyond. As afterall the 1500’s-1700’s might be the most relevant time period when wanting to Trace African Roots for many Hispanic Americans (see this page).

I like to thank again all the persons who kindly agreed to share their results with me! And in particular a Colombian friend of mine who greatly contributed to my research in regards to regional substructure among Colombians. In particular when comparing Pacific Colombians with Colombias from the Caribbean and/or Andes (see this map if you are unfamiliar with Colombia’s geography). As illustrated in table 1 already. Check out his very informational Youtube channel:

See links below for my online spreadsheet which features all of the individual results:

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COLOMBIA (Pacific: Valle del Cauca)

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2018 version.  Although I do not have that many Pacific Colombian samples in my survey I have a strong hunch that this breakdown is quite typical. In particular a predominance of Lower Guinean ancestry. As indicated by “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” as well as “Nigerian”. Presumably to be traced back mainly to the 1700’s; see also this very useful chart. Impressive btw how 23andme’s recent ancestral location feature was able to get this person’s specific location right. This is not always the case though due to a skewed refernce database as well as ancestral migrations people may not even be aware of.

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ECUADOR (Pacific: Guayas)

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2018 version. Due to similar slave trade patterns (by way of Panama) so-called Afro-Ecuadorians are bound to have a great overlap in their African origins when compared with neighbouring Afro-Colombians from the Pacific coast. Which is why I have included this individual result in my Pacific Colombian survey group. It is not always well realized that these populations combined form one of the largest Afro-descended communities in the Americas! With very valuable African retention and distinctive localized histories. As can be seen in this person’s breakdown there will also be overlap with the Anglo-Caribbean. Which makes sense because the British were greatly involved in Intra-American Slave trade to the Spanish Americas during the 1700’s.

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COLOMBIA (Pacific: Cali)

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2018 version. Again a pronounced Lower Guinean score. But actually this time “Angolan & Congolese” is most prominent. Quite special given the higher amount of total African admixture. But in fact for several other Colombians Central African DNA was quite elevated as well. Most likely to be increased after the 2020 update.

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COLOMBIA (Pacific: Chocó)

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2018 version. Again a clear distinction in African origins when compared with the Colombian results from other parts of the country, which are to follow next.  It is also interesting to observe how people from the Chocó department extending all the way to Ecuador combine levels of  predominant African ancestry (>60%) with substantial Native American admixture within the 10-25% range it seems. Somewhat similar to the Garifuna people of Central America. Except that Afro-Colombians will usually still have noticeable European admixture as well.

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COLOMBIA (Pacific: Chocó)

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2020 version. Recently updated results. As can be seen from the decreased “Unassigned” and most “Broadly” scores. As well as the strongly homogenized European breakdown. The African regional scores are in line with previous Pacific results. Notice also the quite subdued “Senegambian & Guinean” amount.

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COLOMBIA (Caribbean: Cartagena) 

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2020 version. Recently updated results. As can be seen from the decreased “Unassigned” and most “Broadly” scores. Very interesting results given this person’s confirmed Caribbean/Cartagena family origins. His Upper Guinean DNA is lower than perhaps might have been expected. Even when he actually does show up as a DNA match for one of my Cape Verdean cousins. Still only 1.3% “Senegambian & Guinean”. But his prevailing scores for “Nigerian” and “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” are certainly not surprising. Most likely a reflection of how Cartagena’s slave trade shifted towards Lower Guinea in the late 1600’s/1700’s by way of  British & Dutch intermediaries. Instead of the previous Portuguese Asiento which focused much more so on Central Africa and Upper Guinea.

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COLOMBIA (Caribbean: Cartagena?) & 1/2 South Asian

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2018 version.  I do not have full knowledge about this person’s family origins within Colombia. Although I have reason to believe it could be Cartagena or atleast the Caribbean coast. She is also half Indian btw as correctly picked up by 23andme. But either way the primary ranking of “Senegambian & Guinean” would be rather appropriate given that Cartagena was once the main entrypoint of especially Upper Guinean & Angolan captives during the 1500/1600’s (see also this chart). However later on (1700’s) also people with other origins passed through this once most important slaveport of the Spanish Americas. A different development than took place in the other major Hispanic slave port of Veracruz in Mexico. And therefore most likely also more diversity within the African breakdown to be expected for Colombians.

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COLOMBIA (Andes?)

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2020 version. Recently updated results.  “Angolan & Congolese” was already at quite a significant level for many of my Colombian survey participants on the 2018 version. And it seems likely that this will even increase for many people as the 2020 update seems to have lead to an improved detection of Central African DNA.

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COLOMBIA (Caribbean: Barranquilla)

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2018 version. Central African DNA runs pretty high in my Colombian survey group. “Angolan & Congolese” ended up in first place for 6 persons out of 22 in total. Seemingly regardless of regional origins within Colombia. Unlike Upper Guinean DNA which is clearly subdued in the Pacific but much more noticeable or even prominent in the Andes/Caribbean.

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COLOMBIA (Andes?)

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2018 version. I have no certainty about this person exact family origins. But still in line with other profiles from the Andes. Also quite distinctive “Southern East African” score. Possibly indicative of Mozambican lineage.

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COLOMBIA (Andes: Antioquia & Pacific: Chocó)

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2018 version. Very fascinating breakdown given this person’s family background. Quite regionally balanced actually. With “Congolese” and “Nigerian” in shared first place. But “Senegambian & Guinean” also still considerable.  Notice also the recent ancestral location in Ecuador. Which might not be 100% accurate bit is still pointing in the right direction for this person’s partial Pacific family origins.

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COLOMBIA (Caribbean: Bolivar)

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2018 version. Quite similar to the previous result from presumably Cartagena.

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COLOMBIA (Andes: Antioquia)

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2018 version.

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COLOMBIA (Andes: Cali & Quindio)

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2018 version. Somewhat atypical for the results I have seen from the Andes area. “Coastal West Africa” being the former name of the “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” category, which was especially prominent among Pacific Colombians sofar. But of course there will always be more variation than my limited sample size will allow for. Also I imagine this person could *possibly* have family ties to the Pacific going back several generations.

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COLOMBIA (Andes & Pacific)

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2018 version.

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COLOMBIA (Andes)

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2018 version.

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COLOMBIA (?)

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2018 version.

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COLOMBIA (Andes: Bogota)

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2018 version.

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COLOMBIA (Andes?)

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2018 version.

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ECUADOR (?)

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2020 version. I have no solid confirmation information about this person’s family origins within Ecuador. But her recent ancestral location is mentioning Guayas. And therefore a coastal origin among atleast one family line seems quite likely. Interestingly also reinforced by the primary “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” score which was also prevailing among my Pacific Colombian survey group. Compare also with the previous Ecuadorian results with a much higher total African amount of 70%. But still also with “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” in first place.

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VENEZUELA 

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2020 version. Recently updated results as can seen for example from the homogenized European breakdown. Still the African breakdown continues to feature combined Upper Guinean & Central African predominance. The very same patterns which can be observed and which appear to be widespread across the Hispanic Americas. The recent ancestral locations for Venezuelans might often include several other Latin American countries in addition. Most of the time due to shared ancestry through all sorts of migrations, but not per se ancestors originating from those locations!

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VENEZUELA 

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2018 version. Judging from my limited survey findings (n=9) Venezuelans might often be greatly similar to both Caribbean Colombians as as well as Dominicans & Puerto Ricans. Although when compared with the latter Venezuelans will generally show a greater degree of Native American admixture. But a common theme seems to be the increased frequency of primary “Senegambian & Guinean” scores.

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VENEZUELA 

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2018 version. Regrettably I was not able yet to include any Venezuelan results representing people with predominant African admixture. But prominent Lower Guinean scores can already be seen at times. Especially “Nigerian”. Suggestive of regional African origins introduced within the Venezuelan genepool mainly in the 1700’s due to Intra-American slave trade with the Dutch (by way of Curacao!) and the British.

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VENEZUELA 

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2020 version.

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VENEZUELA 

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2018 version.

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VENEZUELA 

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2018 version.

______________________________________________________________________________

Cuban Results

Table 5 (click to enlarge) 

Compared with many other Hispanic Americans the African breakdown for Cubans is quite singular due to more prominent “Nigerian” scores.  Obviously only when taking into account group averages. In fact for a subgroup of Cubans with only minor African admixture (<10%) it might still be that they resemble other Hispanics in greater degree. However for Cubans with above average African admixture it seems likely that most of them will show a greater genetic imprint of Lower Guinean regions such as “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” and especially “Nigerian”, to be traced back mainly to the 1800’s and also late 1700’s. See also see table 1. Somewhat similar to Pacific Colombians and often showing great overlap with known African origins for the Anglo-Caribbean (esp. Bight of Biafra, incl. Igbo) but actually also for Brazil & Haiti (Bight of Benin, incl. Yoruba)!

***

As far as I know and was able to verify all of these screenshots below are from persons with 4 Cuban grandparents. Unless mentioned otherwise. Meant to illustrate the individual variation among Cubans in the first place. Despite the limited sample size these results might still also be quite representative while many of them could even show distinct patterns for their nationality and/or particular background. The results have been arranged from highest degree of African admixture to lowest. I also mention regional origins within Cuba whenever such details were available to me. Naturally I did not have perfect information about everyone’s complete family tree. So the headings on top of the screenshots are only meant as an approximation of recent family origins!

This also goes for the recent ancestral locations which I highlighted myself. Potentially a very useful feature (based on DNA matching strength) but only to be taken as indicative. Due to a skewed reference database its predictions will sometimes not be perfectly in line with known family origins. Also implied ancestry might actually be due to migrations in several ways. Hispanic people often being greatly interrelated, even across borders generally speaking. Still usually already quite accurate! Not only for pinpointing recent ancestry within the Americas but actually also often specifying Iberian/Spanish ancestry!

Regrettably I have not yet seen such recent ancestral locations also appearing in the African breakdown for Cubans. Although I have seen it a few times in my Haitian and Jamaican surveys. Each time confirming and in some cases specifying Nigerian lineage on a state level! Very valuable results therefore. I believe this feature (based on DNA matching strength) holds great potential for further specification of African lineage in future updates. Although the implied timeframe has to be expanded from the current 200 years to atleast the 1700’s and preferably even beyond. As afterall the 1500’s-1700’s might be the most relevant time period when wanting to Trace African Roots for many Hispanic Americans (see this page).

Although actually in particular for Cubans with predominant (50%+) African admixture it will usually be the case that they can trace African lineage to the 1800’s which is quite exceptional within the wider Hispanic context! Then again as my preliminary survey findings suggest there could very well be meaningful substructure for Cubans based on degree of African admixture. For a subgroup of Cubans with only minor African admixture (<10%) it might very well be that on average they will trace back their African ancestry further back in time. Possibly self-identified “white” Cubans with longstanding colonial roots extending into the 1500’s might therefore often show a more elevated “Senegambian & Guinean”  or also “Angolan & Congolese” share within their otherwise minimal African breakdown. Due to intermingling with black and/or mixed-race Cubans in earlier centuries. However for Cubans with above average African admixture it seems likely that most of them will show a greater genetic imprint of Lower Guinean regions such as “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” and especially “Nigerian”. In future research I also hope to uncover any possible substructure existing between western and eastern Cuba. See also:

I like to thank again all the persons who kindly agreed to share their results with me! See links below for my online spreadsheet which features all of the individual results:

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CUBA (Havana)

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2019 version. Highest African amount in my Cuban survey. Although obviously many self-identified Black or rather Afro-Cubans will show a higher degree of African admixture. However self-identified White Cubans are the overwhelming majority of Cuban people within 23andme’s customer database. Either way the main patterns on display – suggestive of Lower Guinean origins from esp. the 1800’s/ late 1700’s – are bound to be quite typical for many other Cubans as well.

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CUBA (Camagüey)

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2018 version. Similar patterns on display for this person from central Cuba. It will be interesting to see if people from eastern Cuba with above average African admixture will at times show higher levels of “Senegambian & Guinean”. As it seems that historically speaking this part of Cuba may have had a higher presence of mixed race “Mulato” people. Possibly including therefore foundational Upper Guinean roots preserved from the 1500’s. As clearly visible for many Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, even with elevated overall African admixture.

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CUBA (Camagüey)

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2020 version. These results belong to a sibling of the person whose results are shown directly above. It represents the updated 2020 version. Which is noticeable especially in the decreased “Broadly” and Unassigned” scores. Most likely the detection of Central African DNA has been improved by this update. This breakdown also showing quite an elevated level of “Angolan & Congolese”. But similar to the result above “Nigerian” still in first place. Interestingly the recent ancestral location also mentions Haiti. And actually this person is indeed aware of a Haitian ancestor! Many Cubans might actually have partial Haitian lineage. Possibly from both white, mixed-race and black Haitians, see also this Wikipedia page.

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CUBA 

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2020 version. Recently updated results, leading to a sharp decline in “broadly” scores. Very beneficial also for an improved detection of Chinese admixture. No longer showing additional so-called “Southeast Asian” scores. Which actually did make sense given genetic similarity and ancient migrations from southern China into Southeast Asia. But obviously many lay persons would not be aware. Often leading to unnecessary confusion. As afterall  diluted Chinese lineage among Cubans is quite well known and probably also relatively easy to trace back, unlike African ancestry.

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CUBA (Cienfuegos + Pinar del Rio)

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2018 version. Exceptionally “Southern East African” is the biggest African region within the African breakdown. For other Afro-descendants in the Americas I have only seldomly observed this. Only for 2 Mexicans and 5 Brazilians! This could provide a very valuable clue for follow-up research. Especially when combined with finding associated Southeast African DNA matches. Most likely to be correlated with slave trade with Mozambique. As can be seen in this overview documented slave trade with Southeast Africa was relatively very high for Cuba (10.9%).

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CUBA 

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2020 version. Recently updated results as can be seen for example by looking into the strongly homogenized European breakdown. The African breakdown nonetheless still displays historically plausible regional diversity.

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CUBA 

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2020 version. Recently updated results belonging to the niece of the previous results showing distinctive Chinese admixture of around double the amount (10.9% vs. 4.8%).  Which is according to expectation. I am guessing in most cases diluted Chinese admixture will trace back to one single ancestor, known from family lore. Very fascinating also to see the combination with Native American admixture. Impressive how 23andme is able to keep the both separate except for a tiny ambivalent portion.

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CUBA 

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2019 version. All of the following 9 screenshots are of presumably self-identified White Cubans. Although in fact still showing minimal but distinctive African as well as Native American admixture in all cases. All of them are in fact DNA cousins of mine. Most likely due to shared Iberian (either Portuguese/Galician or Canarian) ancestry dating from the 1800’s. Although the odds are quite low still I suppose in a few cases I might also be related with Cubans due to shared Upper Guinean lineage though, dating from the 150o’s!

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CUBA 

***

2019 version. None of these 2019 results have been included in my Cuban survey which was based on the previous 2018 version. However it is probably quite telling that despite obviously minimal amounts “Senegambian & Guinean” was the primary region in most cases (7/9). Suggestive of their African lineage going back further in time, possibly even the 1500’s, due to intermingling with mixed-race Cubans across the generations. This component probably being preserved due to relative endogamy along racial lines being established afterwards. Something which I have described in greater detail for Puerto Ricans (see this page).

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CUBA 

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2019 version. Notice again the diluted Chinese admixture. This time still featuring potentially misleading Southeast Asian scores as well.

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CUBA 

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2019 version. Many Cubans might receive Azores as recent ancestral location within Portugal. This could be true in some cases. However not per se so as Azorean-Americans are heavily overrepresented within 23andme’s reference database. Such outcomes therefore do not rule out a Portuguese connection hailing from other places. In particular northern Portugal I imagine. Which borders Galicia, a well known place of provenance for many Spanish migrants into Cuba. Aside from Canarians and Andalusians.

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CUBA 

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2019 version.

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CUBA 

***

2019 version. Remarkably high North African admixture. It will probably  increase after the 2020 update. This ancestral component will usually be part of Iberian genetics. Suggestive of either historical or more ancient ancestral ties with North Africa. In this particular case quite likely correlated with Canarian/Guanche lineage actually. As also indicated by the recent ancestral location.

***

CUBA 

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2019 version.

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CUBA 

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2019 version.

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CUBA 

***

2019 version.

***

CUBA 

2020 version. Recently updated results from 2020. Therefore the “unassigned” scrore has descreased drastically. Most likely contributing to the striking North African score! Probably the highest I have seen after the 2020 update took place. But many other Cubans and other Hispanic Americans might likewise see greater North African amounts after receiving the 2020 upgrade. Often (but not always!) correlated with Canarian lineage, as also seems to be the case for this person. Also fascinating btw that the minimal Sub-Saharan African breakdown is otherwise only consisting of Lower Guinean regions which might not be most typical but naturally still is always a possibility.

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___________________________________________________________________________

Notes

1)  Many results included in my survey have been shared with me by the DNA testers themselves. Many other results were kindly shared with me by friends from among their matches/connections. And some results were collected by me from social media as well. Naturally I verified the background of each sample to the best of my capabilities but I did not have absolute certainty in all cases. This page features a selection of these surveyed results. I do actually have more screenshots available. However these were mostly obtained from the DNA Relatives page. And therefore these screenshots are in a less viewer-friendly format (see for example this screenshot). Their results are fully detailed though within my online spreadsheets.

My survey of Hispanic 23andme results is almost exclusively reflecting results which were obtained after the 2018 update (Ancestry Composition v3.0 & v5.0). In 2019 23andme expanded their reference datasets with South Asian, West Asian and most importantly North African samples. This prompted me to stop my survey because ideally you would want to only collect DNA results produced on the same footing. In order to avoid comparing apples and oranges so to speak. I only made a few exceptions to also include samples with higher amounts of African admixture. The differences between the 2018 & 2019 version were not that drastic afterall. However for Latin Americans it did have as 1 major consequence in that their “Unassigned” scores usually increased a great deal. Aside from minor variations in “North African” and also “Senegambian & Guinean”. See also:

2) I firmly believe that despite inherent limitations and given correct interpretation 23andme’s regional admixture estimates can be very useful as a stepping stone for follow-up researchAnd just to get a general idea of where most of your African ancestors hailed from. All according to the latest state of knowledge. Which naturally may be improved upon across time. I find it important to stay positive and focus on what ever informational value you can obtain despite imperfections. Instead of taking an overtly dismissive stance. Preferring to see the glass as half full rather than half empty 😉 You do need to make an effort yourself and stay engaged to gain more insight though!

In particular your follow-up research may include a focus on your African DNA matching patterns and how your African DNA matches may validate or correlate with your regional admixture scores. For example if you manage to find any  African matches and 1 of them appears to be Senegalese then this solidifies and also potentially specifies any major “Senegambian & Guinean” score you might have obtained. Same thing goes for any Central African matches corroborating “Angolan & Congolese” scores. See also:

  • African DNA matches reported by Ancestry for 30 Latin Americans (incl. Mexico and Cuba) (under preparation)

Furthermore you will want to expand you knowledge about the historically documented presence of Africans in your earliest known places of origin within the Americas. In order to establish the historical plausibility of your 23andme scores. For example for most Latin Americans it is vital to be aware of both Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American Slave Trade. The latter flow of people quite likely resulting in a great deal of shared African lineage with especially Jamaica and other parts of the Anglo-Caribbean. In particular from the so-called Lower Guinea area (mostly Ghana & Nigeria). Also getting acquainted with the relative time framing or “waves” of various groups of Africans arriving from different regions will be very useful (see this chart and also this one).

Any follow-up research is of course to be customized according to your own personal situation and also according to your research preferences. Plain genealogy is indepensable for dilligently building up a decent family tree. Which is very valuable in itself. But regrettably these strictly genealogical efforts will not always lead you back all the way to Africa. Save for some rare exceptions (Questlove on Finding Your Roots). Hence why I always insist on avoiding any source snobbery with relation to regional admixture analysis, such as performed by 23andme.

However when duly performed your family tree research will allow you to at least identify your earliest known ancestral locations within the Americas. Which will make it easier to correlate with slave trade patterns and documented African ethnicities for those areas. And if you are very persistent and/or lucky this might also eventually allow you to find localized documentation (plantation records; private correspondence of slave owners; church records; newspaper advertisements about runaway slaves etc.) possibly even mentioning any of your African-born ancestors on 1 single family line!

Combining advanced genetic genealogy techniques such as triangulation and DNA Painter with regional admixture of shared DNA segments also holds great potential in my opinion. As it might enable you to identify an earliest family line associated with such regional admixture! Especially when this regional admixture is distinctive such an approach can be very fruitful. For example when dealing with possible Upper Guinean lineage the presence of any “Senegambian & Guinean” admixture should be very useful. Even when somewhat subdued such scores are likely to be genuine still. And after the 2020 update you might receive a more accurate estimate even. Naturally all of this is to be combined with any other clues you might have. Also it goes without saying that extra scrutiny is always required in order to avoid jumping to conclusions!

3) For a greater understanding of this Upper Guinean founding effect read the following blog posts:

An overly USA-centric perspective may have prevented a full realization of how significant Upper Guinean ancestry turns out to be for many Hispanic Americans. Especially in comparison with African Americans. The recent inclusion of early Iberian (Portuguese/Spanish) Slave Voyages into the standard reference Slave Voyages database has been incredibly useful therefore for greater understanding. However it should be pointed out that Latin American (e.g. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán), Iberian and Cape Verdean historians (such as António Carreira) have always been aware of the significance of this early slave trade by way of Cape Verde. Their research findings may not have been so widely known in the USA merely because their work has mostly not been published in English.

Either way in 2016 I myself already blogged the following:

____________________

The exact degree of Senegambian origins and any possible reasons for its relative greater dilution among African Americans are yet to be determined. But at any rate the often made assertion that African Americans would have the greatest proportional share of Upper Guinean ancestry within the Americas may no longer be tenable. It might very well have to be rephrased into African Americans have a greater share of Senegambian ancestry only when compared to the English speaking West Indies and Haiti but not so when compared with the Hispanic Caribbean and Mexico/Central America. The persistent Upper Guinean genetic imprint among many Hispanics […] can no longer be ignored

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Overview below is featuring my final research findings based on AncestryDNA results (2013-2018 version). It can be established that the predictive accuracy of “Senegal” was not 100% accurate but still quite solid. And it was being reinforced by a somewhat weaker defined “Mali” to describe a genetic Upper Guinean component. It can be seen that “Senegal” + “Mali” is clearly culminating for Senegambians, Guineans, Malians and Cape Verdeans, as it should! But also otherwise the ranking is in line with expectations. At least when going by the latest insights and not relying on a USA-centric perspective. In regards to the (Trans-Atlantic) Afro-Diaspora we can observe how “Senegal” + “Mali” is most prevalent among Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Seemingly reflecting a major Upper Guinean founding effect among Hispanic Americans. I have blogged about this topic many times already (starting in 2014). And I intend to do so again eventually as my 23andme surveyfindings are also in support of this remarkable phenomenon!

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Stats Upper Guinea (diasp)

This table features an approximation of an Upper Guinean component by combining “Senegal” and “Mali” group averages. The ranking among Afro-Diasporans is more or less in line with historical sources. Illustrating how a Upper Guinean founding effect among Hispanic Americans may have been very significant!

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